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Victoria HarbourCats – HabourCats load up on pitching in preparation for 2024 season

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Preston Kelly in CCAA action for the Cal State-San Marcos Cougars (Photo: Greg Siller, Cal State-San Marcos)

May 13, 2024

For immediate release

VICTORIA, B.C. — Local pitcher Jacob Thompson joins the HarbourCats for the 2024 season, along with four other college arms.

The HarbourCats are excited to announce the addition of five pitchers to their 2024 pitching staff, all joining the club for the first time.

Announced today:

  • RHP Jacob Thompson, Minot State University, 6-0/180, North Saanich, BC
  • RHP Preston Kelly, Cal State-San Marcos, 5-10/190, Eastvale, CA
  • RHP Jason Krakoski, Cal State-Fullerton, 6-3/180, Livermore, CA
  • LHP Payton Hawkinson, Cal State-Fullerton, 6-7/230, Turlock, CA
  • LHP Brandon Bertsch, University of Texas, 6-0/170, Dallas, TX

Thompson, a graduate of Lambrick Park Secondary, is a freshman at Minot State University. He has appeared in nine games for the Beavers in 2024, primarily as a reliever, and has given up one or less earned runs in seven of those appearances.

Kelly has posted a 3.96 ERA over 38.2 innings for Cal State-San Marcos during the 2024 season. The California native started the season on a tear as he did not allow an earned run until his 10th appearance. He has struck out 33 batters while limiting the walks to just eight over the course of the season so far. In 2023, Kelly finished with nine saves which was the second most in school history.

Krakoski is the first of two pitchers joining Victoria from Cal State-Fullerton. He has struck out 20 batters over 21.2 innings in 2024 and has limited the long ball by only giving up one home run all season. In high school, he captained his team to the NCS playoff semi-finals in back-to-back years. The freshman comes from a family of athletes as both his grandfather and uncle played professional football – his grandfather played for the Oakland Raiders from 1963-1966 and his uncle was a linebacker in the NFL for Washington in 1986.

Hawkinson (pictured right), another California native, is a big lefty standing at 6-7/230. The freshman has pitched in seven games this year for the Titans and has given up one or less earned runs in six of those appearances. In his junior year of high school he earned first-team all-conference and conference pitcher-of-the-year awards as he led his team to conference championship.

Bertsch is a freshman right-hander from Dallas. He starred in high school becoming just the second player in school history with more than 100 strikeouts in a season. He will add a lot of swing and miss potential to an already formidable HarbourCats pitching staff.

The HarbourCats are looking forward to seeing these young arms in action against West Coast League batters.

The HarbourCats open on the road May 31 in Kamloops, the start of back-to-back series in Kamloops and Kelowna, before returning for the June 7 home opener against Wenatchee. The HarbourCats will be on the road this summer in Kamloops, Kelowna, Edmonton, Wenatchee, Ridgefield, Port Angeles, Bellingham, and six games in Nanaimo against the Island-rival NightOwls at Serauxmen Stadium. Teams visiting Victoria this year are Wenatchee, Nanaimo, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Kelowna, Edmonton (two series), Kamloops and Corvallis, along with non-league games against the Redmond Dudes, Dub Sea Fish Sticks, the SIBL All-Stars, and Victoria Mavericks All-Stars.

The regular season runs until August 7, with WCL playoffs running from August 10 to August 16.

Single game tickets are now available for the HarbourCats 2024 season including the home opener on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 6:35pm against the Kamloops NorthPaws. These can be purchased online through our one and only ticketing partner, Select Your Tickets, at www.harbourcats.com/tickets or at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street.

Season tickets and 10-game flex packs are also now on sale via the HarbourCats office or by calling 778-265-0327.

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Summer Collegiate

Stability and more support the story for NightOwls coaching staff

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Greg Frady, Gorman Heimueller, Sean FitzGerald are the only coaches the Nanaimo NightOwls have ever known.

With the West Coast League team entering its third season at historic Serauxmen Stadium, that trio will have some help for 2024 — and the local kind.

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Frady, the Head Coach and veteran of college and international baseball, is proud to add two local coaches to the staff — First Base Coach Tyler Moretti, and Mental Skills/Bullpen Coach Jordan Herbison.

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Pitching Coach Heimueller, amazingly, is approaching his 50th year in the game, a career that includes two World Series rings, while FitzGerald, who runs the offense from the third base box, brings a wealth of junior college experience from Skagit Valley College.

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Moretti is well known locally as a former Pirates player who went south to play at Jamestown College, also seeing time at then-named VIBI. He has coached at the PBL and collegiate level.

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Herbison, originally from Ontario, played at UBC and the former RHP is now an instructor at Vancouver Island University, and was the mental performance coach for the NightOwls in 2023.

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Herbison and Moretti will give NightOwls players more opportunities for development.

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Summer Collegiate

Arm injuries in pro and college baseball — NightOwls make organizational statement

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Heimueller has served as a minor league pitching coach and coordinator for many MLB organizations, most recently with the Padres. He has World Series rings for his work with the Twins and Phillies.

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With the NightOwls, Gorm has enjoyed working with them all — but especially strong-command pitchers such as Nathan Buchan, Garrett Goodall, Jake Fleury and Josh Laukkanen.

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“Gorm loves to say he’s never seen a ground ball leave the park,” said Swanson.

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“We see athletes on our team and others using max effort rather than prioritizing strikes — that makes for longer games, too, another focus in baseball. If someone can throw 97, with healthy actions and commanding the baseball, that’s great — but few can and let’s stop turning our backs on pitchers who can get people out with pitch location as the priority.

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“There is too much focus on radar gun ratings, on spin rate readouts, and Gorm and our coaching staff will be developing and rewarding pitchers who locate pitches and get batters out.”

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The NightOwls are excited about the player roster for the coming season, and the mix of pitchers on the roster — different styles, to create different looks and get the 27 outs required to win games.

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Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – 2024 Season Ticket Pick-up Event

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WE ARE BACK! 2024 Season Tickets Available for Pick-Up

May 17, 2024

We are inviting all season ticket holders, host families, and fans to join us for our annual “MAX MIXER” Season Ticket Holder Pick Up Event on Tuesday, May 28th from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at MAX FURNITURE at 3460 Quadra St. in Victoria.

WHAT: Season Ticket Pick-Up and Pre-Season Mixer
WHERE: MAX FURNITURE – 3460 Quadra St.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 28th from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Come meet your fellow fans, grab your season tickets, and mingle with HarbourCats staff and Harvey the HarbourCat as we kickoff the 2024 season.

There will be ticket and merchandise deals offered exclusively at the event.

NO RSVP required but if you have any questions, please contact the HarbourCats office at 778-265-0327.

If you can’t make the event, you can pick up your tickets at the HarbourCats office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street. Open M-F 9AM to 5PM, and Saturdays 10AM to 4PM.

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